Vancouver City Council approves study on eliminating minimum parking standards

Sep 30 2020, 10:12 pm

Vancouver City Council has directed city staff to perform a deep dive into eliminating city-mandated parking minimums in future building development projects.

Non-Partisan Association (NPA) councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung’s motion was approved in a vote on Tuesday after very little deliberation, with NPA councillor Colleen Hardwick abstaining, and mayor Kennedy Stewart and independent councillor Rebecca Bligh absent.

Instead, the intention is to have an Open Parking Policy method where market forces — developers and businesses — would decide on the amount of parking supply needed, and be required to implement transportation demand management (TDM) measures that encourage public transit use and active transportation.

A recent study by Metro Vancouver Regional District suggests there is a substantial oversupply in parking within strata apartment buildings (42%) and market rental apartment buildings (35%) in the region, with residential buildings closest to major public transit services seeing some of the lowest parking use.

Proponents of significantly reduced or eliminated parking minimums have long asserted the environmental benefits from not only reduced vehicle use, but also less excavation and concrete for the construction of underground parkade levels.

City council also approved an amendment moved by COPE councillor Jean Swanson to have city staff explore whether the savings from reduced construction costs from ending parking minimums will be passed on to homeowners and renters, effectively improving housing affordability.

City staff are expected to return to city council later this year on their findings and recommendations on removing parking minimums.

If city council approves a future staff recommendation to abolish parking minimums, Vancouver would follow in the footsteps of Edmonton, which approved the elimination of parking minimums this past June.

The City of Vancouver has made parking minimum reductions recently, with changes in January 2019 allowing up to 30% parking reductions available to developers as long as they satisfy transportation demand management (TDM), comprising up to 10% reduction for proximity to public transit and up to 20% reduction from other measures such as free transit passes for residents and a car share service within the building.

Other additional reductions of up to 60% are also permitted for rental housing developments.

Elsewhere in the region, CoquitlamSurrey, and Richmond have also relaxed their parking minimums in the rezoning process if the proponent offers TDM measures.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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